The constantly traveling team behind Departful is always on the hunt for the latest gear, apps and tools to help ourselves and our readers make the most of our respective globetrotting adventures. In our recent article ‘6 Ways Technology Has Disrupted How People Travel’, we explored the many impacts of technology on the way we travel.

While the literal ‘connectivity’ available to travelers has never been so great, we often still struggle with true ‘connection’ with the communities and people around us. We don’t actually experience most of where we travel has to offer because inevitably travel is better as a shared experience. But we’re too busy buried in our smartphones to actually enjoy it.

After nearly 500 days of backpacking the world, sans smartphone, American turned New Zealand expat and Mark Bardi recognized this problem. He teamed up with his tech whiz co-founder, Greg Elisara, and turned it into an opportunity, founding the free messaging app HerePin. Its mission is to connect lonely solo travellers on the road to those nearby and become “the world’s largest local messaging app for travellers”.

What’s the HerePin App All About?

What’s it all about? HerePin can be described as part Twitter, part Tinder, and part Facebook for travellers. The ultimate goal is to enable users to meet “awesome people” to share travel experiences with, obtain timely tips and answers to travel related questions, and to “make friends all over the world and keep in touch”. Despite these arguably being some pretty lofty goals, according to the app’s website, it only requires a fairly simple four step process:

  1. Join – Join a global community of social travellers (currently close to 8,000 users globally)
  2. Find – Set your location to see who’s in your area (you can filter from 5km all the way to ‘global’ radius)
  3. Meet – Meet people and get local tips in real time (either through the Twitter like live public feed, or by private messaging other users)
  4. Discover – Search your next destination to see what’s happening.

Interestingly, the immediate appeal of the HerePin app for me being based in Southeast Asia is the genuine ‘travel focus’. In seven months around the region, I’ve noticed many travellers have begun to use Tinder as a default way to meet people in new cities. Unlike its use for ‘hookups’ in North America, in Southeast Asia most user profiles plainly declare where they are currently travelling and include an offer to meet up for tours, drinks, or joint city exploration. The level of sincerity behind these profiles varies greatly, though there are several genuine travellers with platonic aspirations. HerePin on the other hand, cuts out any misunderstanding. It’s a social travel app. Not a dating one. Plain and simple.

To complement the app, HerePin has active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. As of late march, there are roughly 15,000 followers across these platforms. The app itself can be downloaded for free for both iPhone and Android devices from iTunes and Google Play.

HerePin officially launched in late January 2017, and is first and foremost gaining traction in its home market of New Zealand. It has grown it’s user base to roughly 8,000, with over 22% of users within New Zealand in Australia. With breathtaking scenes from Milford Sound to Fox Glacier, it’s easy to see why intrepid travellers have an interest in the country. And with so much natural beauty, it’s also easy to understand why many need help to navigate all of their options and meet up with like minded travelers. The app contains over 500 ‘pins’ or pieces of content created specifically in New Zealand.

The blog behind HerePin also hosts a growing treasure trove of travel tips primarily focusing on New Zealand. Here are a few notable entries:

5 Insanely Great Views In Auckland City

10 Easy Ways to Meet People While Travelling Solo

11 Hidden Gems To Visit In New Zealand This Summer

The Verdict

Thanks to it’s easy to use functionality, HerePin is gaining momentum. Here at Departful,  we are hopeful for the continued growth of the app, which will improve the relevance for travelers beyond New Zealand and Australia in the months to come. Without a doubt, it’s a great tool while in these nations, but for the moment visitors to other countries may find content overly ‘light’ to be a go to source. At the time of writing this article, I found around 60 users within a generous 50km radius of Bali, 50 in Saigon, 40 in Singapore and only one in Myanmar’s Bagan. Then again, it always takes a leader to be the first – perhaps you’ll be the pioneer HerePin needs in its emerging markets. Why not sign up today and find out?

Photos for HerePin Travel App article courtesy of Madeline Burch, HerePin Inc., and Flickr contributor Bernard Spragg. NZ.